Cover image for Reflections on exile and other essays
Reflections on exile and other essays
Said, Edward W.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xxxv, 617 pages ; 25 cm.
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PN98.P64 S35 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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With their powerful blend of political and aesthetic concerns, Edward W. Said's writings have transformed the field of literary studies. This long-awaited collection of literary and cultural essays, the first since Harvard University Press published The World, the Text, and the Critic in 1983, reconfirms what no one can doubt--that Said is the most impressive, consequential, and elegant critic of our time--and offers further evidence of how much the fully engaged critical mind can contribute to the reservoir of value, thought, and action essential to our lives and our culture.As in the title essay, the widely admired "Reflections on Exile," the fact of his own exile and the fate of the Palestinians have given both form and the force of intimacy to the questions Said has pursued. Taken together, these essays--from the famous to those that will surprise even Said's most assiduous followers--afford rare insight into the formation of a critic and the development of an intellectual vocation. Said's topics are many and diverse, from the movie heroics of Tarzan to the machismo of Ernest Hemingway to the shades of difference that divide Alexandria and Cairo. He offers major reconsiderations of writers and artists such as George Orwell, Giambattista Vico, Georg Lukacs, R. P. Blackmur, E. M. Cioran, Naguib Mahfouz, Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Walter Lippman, Samuel Huntington, Antonio Gramsci, and Raymond Williams. Invigorating, edifying, acutely attentive to the vying pressures of personal and historical experience, his book is a source of immeasurable intellectual delight.

Author Notes

Born in Jerusalem and educated at Victoria College in Cairo and at Princeton and Harvard universities, Edward Said has taught at Columbia University since 1963 and has been a visiting professor at Harvard and Johns Hopkins University. He has had an unusual dual career as a professor of comparative literature, a recognized expert on the novelist and short story writer Joseph Conrad, (see Vol. 1) and as one of the most significant contemporary writers on the Middle East, especially the Palestinian question and the plight of Palestinians living in the occupied territories. Although he is not a trained historian, his Orientalism (1978) is one of the most stimulating critical evaluations of traditional Western writing on Middle Eastern history, societies, and literature. In the controversial Covering Islam (1981), he examined how the Western media have biased Western perspectives on the Middle East. A Palestinian by birth, Said has sought to show how Palestinian history differs from the rest of Arabic history because of the encounter with Jewish settlers and to present to Western readers a more broadly representative Palestinian position than they usually obtain from Western sources. Said is presently Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia, editor of Arab Studies Quarterly, and chair of the board of trustees of the Institute of Arab Studies. He is a member of the Palestinian National Council as well as the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. (Bowker Author Biography) Edward W. Said is University Professor of English & Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of nineteen books, including "Orientalism" (which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award), "Culture & Imperialism", "The End of the Peace Process", & "Out of Place", a memoir. He lives in New York City.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

For more than a third of a century, Columbia University professor Said has written insightfully about literature, culture, and the Middle East. This volume gathers nearly 50 essays, most on literary subjects, although Said also addresses philosophy and history, the arts and current events. Writers considered include Merleau-Ponty, Conrad, Nietzsche, Vico, Foucault, Hemingway, Blackmur, Mahfouz, and Melville, but Said also discusses Bach and Fidelio, analyzes the Tarzan stories and films, and offers an "Homage to a Belly Dancer." Several essays, including "Orientalism Revisited," deal with responses to Said's 1979 book, while the title essay probes the personal and literary impact of this quintessentially twentieth-century experience. The collection includes book reviews and polemics, appreciations of a specific artist or thinker, and efforts to synthesize the "larger picture." Said's wide-ranging intellect and breadth of knowledge make this collection a demanding read, appropriate for libraries serving patrons interested in serious literary, philosophical, and political criticism. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

Thanks to the British schools that the eminent Columbia University literary and cultural critic Said attended as a boy in Cairo, he learned more about 18th-century British property law than he did about the Islamic equivalent in his own part of the world. As an adult, he re-educated himself with a fierce intensity, although, as these 46 essays make clear, he now retains a certain affection for canonical figures and institutions, even as he celebrates an astounding range of learning. Said (Culture and Imperialism; Orientalism; Out of Place: A Memoir) views all of culture through the lens of "historical experience," emphasizing how feminism, ethnic and minority experience, and nationalism have broken tradition's grip on literature. Rather than put aside the canonical writers he was raised on, however, he "re-situates" them instead within their own histories. Given his keenly penetrating and original cast of mind, it is not surprising that Said's personal pantheon of heroes includes those who blur the line between criticism and creation, among them Foucault, Nietzsche, Gramsci, Barthes, Adorno and John Berger, not to mention pianist Glenn Gould, composer and conductor Pierre Boulez and filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo. But his greatest hero is Joseph Conrad, for Conrad found trouble everywhere; if there is savagery in Africa and Asia and Latin America, there is just as much in the great capitals of Europe. This wide-ranging and brilliant collection is a fitting tribute to one of our leading scholars, who has changed the way we look at Western culture. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Said's work has been transformative. Orientalism (CH, Apr'79), The World, the Text, and the Critic (CH, Jun'83), and Culture and Imperialism (CH, Jul'93), in particular, combine the analysis of narrative, history, politics, and social discourse in ways that have enabled the field of postcolonial studies and altered the way many scholars think about their responsibilities. Said has also been a prolific essayist on music, aesthetics, critical theory, and Middle Eastern politics. This volume collects 46 of his essays, written over the past 35 years; many of them appeared in periodicals unavailable in smaller college libraries. The "exile" of the title refers to an important theme, but the volume includes superb essays on many other topics. Those on G. Vico, R.P. Blackmur, filmmaker F. Pontecorvo, Egyptian Nobelist N. Mahfouz, and Ahdaf Soueif (now becoming widely known in the West) are exceptional, as are "Orientalism Reconsidered," "The Politics of Knowledge," and "The Future of Criticism." Indispensable for all college and university libraries. K. Tololyan Wesleyan University

Table of Contents

R. P. Blackmur and Georges Poulet and E. D. HirschE. M. CioranT. E. LawrenceGeorge OrwellWalter LippmannV. S. NaipaulJohn Berger and Jean MohrGlenn GouldErnest HemingwayJohnny Weissmuller's TarzanTahia CariocaAhdaf SoueifEric HobsbawmJacqueline RoseSamuel Huntington
Introductionp. xi
1. Labyrinth of Incarnations: The Essays of Maurice Merleau-Pontyp. 1
2. Sense and Sensibilityp. 15
3. Amateur of the Insolublep. 24
4. A Standing Civil Warp. 31
5. Arabic Prose and Prose Fiction After 1948p. 41
6. Between Chance and Determinism: Lukacs's Aesthetikp. 61
7. Conrad and Nietzschep. 70
8. Vico on the Discipline of Bodies and Textsp. 83
9. Tourism among the Dogsp. 93
10. Bitter Dispatches from the Third Worldp. 98
11. Grey Eminencep. 105
12. Among the Believersp. 113
13. Opponents, Audiences, Constituencies, and Communityp. 118
14. Bursts of Meaningp. 148
15. Egyptian Ritesp. 153
16. The Future of Criticismp. 165
17. Reflections on Exilep. 173
18. Michel Foucault, 1927-1984p. 187
19. Orientalism Reconsideredp. 198
20. Remembrances of Things Played: Presence and Memory in the Pianist's Artp. 216
21. How Not to Get Goredp. 230
22. Foucault and the Imagination of Powerp. 239
23. The Horizon of R. P. Blackmurp. 246
24. Cairo Recalled: Growing Up in the Cultural Crosscurrents of 1940s Egyptp. 268
25. Through Gringo Eyes: With Conrad in Latin Americap. 276
26. The Quest for Gillo Pontecorvop. 282
27. Representing the Colonized: Anthropology's Interlocutorsp. 293
28. After Mahfouzp. 317
29. Jungle Callingp. 327
30. Cairo and Alexandriap. 337
31. Homage to a Belly-Dancerp. 346
32. Introduction to Moby-Dickp. 356
33. The Politics of Knowledgep. 372
34. Identity, Authority, and Freedom: The Potentate and the Travelerp. 386
35. The Anglo-Arab Encounterp. 405
36. Nationalism, Human Rights, and Interpretationp. 411
37. Traveling Theory Reconsideredp. 436
38. History, Literature, and Geographyp. 453
39. Contra Mundump. 474
40. Bach's Genius, Schumann's Eccentricity, Chopin's Ruthlessness, Rosen's Giftp. 484
41. Fantasy's Role in the Making of Nationsp. 493
42. On Defiance and Taking Positionsp. 500
43. From Silence to Sound and Back Again: Music, Literature, and Historyp. 507
44. On Lost Causesp. 527
45. Between Worldsp. 554
46. The Clash of Definitionsp. 569
Notesp. 593
Creditsp. 605
Indexp. 609